...or, "Why I am glad that my church cooperates with the SBC." With all the mud-slinging recently, I thought I would perhaps let the non-SBCers know the positives that come from being part of a church that cooperates with the Southern Baptist Convention. In doing so I will address some of the valid and invalid criticisms from the other thread. (Discliamer, I did not copy and paste the following points...I wrote this myself, based on my own experience and knowledge...so any misspellings or errors are mine alone). I hope these will help answer the question: “why would a church want or need be a part of the SBC?” 1. DENOMINATION or INDEPENDENT? yes. Is the SBC a Denomination or not?...It really doesn't matter. The obvious answer is that by some definitions it is, and by other definitions it is not. The other obvious answer is that it does functions somewhat differently from many other denominations in that for the most part, no matter what the leaders do or decide, individual churches may decide to ignore or even oppose those decisions. If they decide to boycott Disney, or say some stupid racist remark, it is quite easy for a local church or pastor to simply say, “They are wrong, that’s ridiculous...but, we still believe their missionary work is worth supporting.” In fact each church decides how much or how little the want to be involved, both programatically and financially. 2. CREEDALISM vs BAPTIST FREEDOM. This criticism generally refers to a few things: (a) the recent firing of some IMB Missionaries who used private tongues in prayer, (b) the conservative resurgence in general, or (c) the BF&M 2000 additions regarding the nature of scripture and Male headship. Regarding (a): I agree this was an overstepping of power and should never have happened. That issue is not even addressed in the BF&M, and so should not have been used as a qualifying criteria. There is no good defense for this. Regarding (b & c): 1st, it is important to remember that agreement with the BF&M2000 is NOT required for a church to be SBC. It IS, since the conservative resurgence, being used as a guideline for Denominational hires at entities and seminaries, which I think is entirely appropriate that there be some kind of belief statement that is used this way. I am one who was not around the SBC when the conservative resurgence happened, but I am one who would likely not be a part of the SBC now had it not happened. I agree very much theologically with those who led the CR. Perhaps if I knew more about the methods they used to institute it, I might disagree with those...I simply don't know. Regarding those that believe there should be no creed or statement that is used for any of these purposes, I say the argument doesn’t hold water. Every gathering of believers in history has had some kind of set of common beliefs that united them, Whether it be the Apostle’s creed, Nicea, or whaterver. It is not anti-Baptist to have a common set of beliefs, or even to use that statement to make decisions about who a group of Baptists will cooperate with. “no creed but the bible” is itself a creed. It is my belief that those who oppose creeds should clarify their statement to say that what they really oppose is a creed that is TOO SPECIFIC. If the SBC were to say, “Any church that believes that Jesus rose bodily from the dead may participate with us, and any person who affirms this is qualified for empoyment here.” ...I suspect the creedal critics would go away...even though belief in Jesus’ Resurection is a Creed, although a very simple one. 3. MISSIONARY SUPPORT This is one of the primary reasons that churches are glad to be SBC. THe SBC has about 5000 international Missionaries through the IMB, and around 5000 North American Missionaries through NAMB. Small churches can support these missionaries easily through the SBC in several ways. The historical way was through the cooperative program, in which churches give through their state conventions, who send some of that money on to the national convention, some of which gets to these missionaries. This supported missionaries, and a variety of other state and national ministries for a century, and is part of what made the SBC so big. Recently, many churches have question this breakdown, especially when they see that only a fraction of CP giving gets to international missions. Some churches, like my own, have drastically cut their CP giving, and INCREASED their giving directly to the International Mission Board (IMB). As this increases, state conventions will by necessity have to shrink their budgets, ministries, and staff...which may or may not be a bad thing, but our church has decided that we would rather see our SBC money go mostly to international missions. This in no way jeopardizes our SBC status, since I believe (my numbers could be wrong here) a church our size (around 200) would only need to give about $250 /Year to the Cooperative Program to remain eligable to send representatives to the annual meeting. Beyond that, each church decides how much to give, and how to give it. Our church also gives to a variety of individual missionaries with other non-SBC organizations who we know personally that have come up through our church. SBC cannot stop us from doing this. Perhaps the primary negative side of the IMB is that a church CAN support these missionaries without ever meeting any of them, if the church does not make the effort to invite them to come and report. So if My understanding is correct, I believe that the definition of an SBC church is: (a) give at least $250/yr to the CP (I believe this is a bit more for very large churches).... (b) Don’t have a female pastor or a homosexual pastor. THAT’S IT. No other requirement is laid on us. 4. SEMINARIES One big benefit of SBC membership is that students coming from SBC churches get a half-price discount to any of the 6 SBC Seminaries. This is obviously and investment in future SBC Pastors and leaders, and is a great financial help (This only applies, of course, you think those seminaries are giving a good education, and admittedly, some are better than others, and some have certain biases different than others regarding issues like calvinism). 5. LIFEWAY SBC Churches are under no obligation to use ANY lifeway materials whatsoever. In our church at the present, our 2 SR Adult Sunday school classes are the only ones that use Lifeway curriculum. In the past, other classes have used it on occasion. In my own teaching over the last 7 years at this church, I have used lifeway materials for only 2 different quarters. The truth is there is no perfect curriculum, but that some of the lifeway stuff is better than others, and that any curriculum requires a good teacher to help it along, and make it as deep as it needs to be, or as practical as it needs to be. I have NEVER read or heard of a Lifeway, or SBC source say anything suggesting that Homosexuals are beyond God’s grace. On the contrary, at least in the last few years, I hear them saying that we must reach to homosexuals as sinners in need of God’s grace, just as all of us once were. All have sinned, some sin differently than others, and all need Christ, and Christ is sufficent for all...That’s what I hear SBC people saying. 6. LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS The fact that the SBC exists means that in our local area, we can easily find other SBC churches who LIKELY share many of our beliefs and values, and with whom we as pastors can meet for fellowship and encouragement, and partner in local ministries or missions trips. This works better with some churches than with others, depending on each church’s quirks....but provides us a place to start. 7. ALTERNATIVES? I hope you can see that there is much freedom for individual churches within the SBC, and also opportunities for much good in partnerships, both local and national. The alternative would be to only fund missionaries we personally know, to only do our own ministries and missions trips, or perhaps look around for other like-minded independent churches with whom to partner on some level. The SBC National Leadership, the way things work now, do not place any undue burden of conformity on our church, or prevent us from being truly "baptist." If they did, we would likely leave very quickly.